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A fleet-footed blockade-runner, with telescoping stacks This rakish side-wheel steamer was photographed off Norfolk, Va., December, 1864, some time after the boat had been compelled by force of arms to change her occupation from Confederate blockade-running to very useful work with the Federal blockading fleet, under the name of “Fort Donelson.” She was of 900 tons burden. Burning an thrucite coal, with telescoping smokestacks which could be lowered till almost level with the deck, these vessels left Bermuda and Nassau “on moons” --that is to say, when their arrival of the Southern coast would be attended by as much darkness as possible. Mostly Clyde-built vessels, their first trip would be from some British port with a crew shipped to Bermuda or Nassau “and a market.” Little difficulty was experienced in securing recruits willing to take the places of those who did not wish to go the whole cruise. The runners would leave Bermuda and Nassau half a dozen at a time at favorable opportunities, with a regularity and despatch that the Northern newspapers of the day were fond of commending to the blockading squadron. Old veterans like the “R. E. Lec” and the “Kate” plied with the precision of regular packets. At Havana the blockade-runners were more frequent callers than the regular merchantmen between that city and New York. The “Fort Donelson,” while in the Federal navy, on August 15, 1864, under command of Acting Vol. Lieut. T. Pickering, captured a suspicious-looking vessel, the “Dacotah,” but she was subsequently released. In January, 1865, the “Fort Donelson,” under command of Acting Master G. W. Frost, took part in the expedition against Fort Fisher, which dealt such a heavy blow at blockade-running, the business in which she was formerly engaged.

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T. Pickering (1)
Robert E. Lec (1)
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